I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.American Girls by Alison Umminger
Published by Flatiron Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: Girls & Women, Social & Family Issues, Teen, Young Adult
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She was looking for a place to land.
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.
As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.
In Anna's singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn't, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.
American Girls by Alison Umminger starts as a tale of a whiny teen girl who stole her step-mom’s credit card and flew across the country to LA to stay with her struggling actress sister. In the beginning I was turned off by Anna as I thought she was just a typical bratty spoiled teen. But as the story progressed I was drawn into her world and I realized that Anna may not have had the best reaction, but her reasons were deeper than even she may have realized.
American Girls started as a typical YA read. Girl is pissed at her parents and skips town to stay with her sister in LA., but the plot had way more depth than that. Anna should have felt protected by the adults around her and instead she was treated as an after thought. Even her summer job, researching the Manson girls, was pressed on her by an adult and was not something she should have been exposed to. Alison Umminger wrote an extraordinary story and had a very lyrical style of story telling. I really enjoyed the way she was able to splice together some very disparate themes and make them all work. The pacing had some wonky moments but I was able to pick the story back up quickly. I enjoyed the world built. Anna had a unique way of looking at the places around her and that was conveyed well. There were plenty of emotions in the tale and while there was some teen drama that was a bit over the top, it all worked well. Out of the entire cast of characters, I only liked Anna. Everyone else was so focused on themselves they were almost awful. Anna though, made every second of dealing with the other characters worth it.
American Girls is a very different YA read. The depth of the story and the underlying focus on a horrific series of events made for such an interesting read. The fish out of water looking in at what should be glamor was also very intriguing. This is Alison Umminger’s debut, and if this is her first, I can only imagine how good her second will be. She is definitely an author to keep an eye on, as there is a lot of talent there.
Favorite lines – It was almost too easy to hate on Los Angeles. The city was a kind of apocalyptic tar pit, a freak show of broken hearts and half-fulfilled dreams, full of artists, liars, parasites, and roadkill, all of whom had just a touch of violence in their hearts. Even today, it was Manson territory without the Manson. But those hills and canyons were beautiful as well. Anyone could see how easy it was to write off the glitter, the fake boobs and hair, the way that the dumbest and worst seemed to rise to the top, that at the end of the day it was probably all just a big lie, but I still couldn’t do it myself. I may not have wanted to stay, but I sure liked to visit.
Biggest cliché – Awful YA parents.
Have you read American Girls, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 Debut Author Challenge
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge